About Our Board of Directors

Eric Hovland

Eric Hovland

President

Born for adventure, my dedication to science and discovery has taken me around the globe. From supporting habitat conservation of rhinos in Kenya to diving the frigid fjords of Norway. From leading the charge to propagate sand tiger sharks in Florida to pursuing coral reef restoration in the Philippines. I have lived my life to travel and explore as a new world Viking.

My insatiable curiosity and engaging personality on camera have won the hearts of local, national, and international audiences. I have had the opportunity to combine my passion for the environment with my captivating personality as one of 12 contestants competing in the Norwegian reality television show Alt for Norge, a.k.a. The Great Norway Adventure, (2013).

Patti Hovland-Saunders

Patti Hovland-Saunders

Secretary

Third generation Norwegian-American, Patti hails from her Scandinavian roots in Wisconsin participating in the Stoughton Syttende Mai parade during her years in high school marching band. A well-practiced novice in Rosemåling, she has enjoyed this traditional form of decorative folk art which was introduced to her by her great aunt when she was a teen. Patti has carried on this tradition by fostering this skill with her two daughters when they were teens.

Patti Hovland-Saunders is an industry leader in Higher Education Administration and Human Resource Development, she is a mentor for both academic programs and organizational development systems designed to drive business initiatives by applying strategic business tools for maximizing information technology solutions to support financial and fiscal responsibilities.

Patti is an experienced board member in various positions including past-president of the International Society for Performance Improvement. She currently serves in her third term as the secretary for the Scandinavian Trade Association.

Tom Mortenson

Tom Mortenson

Director

Tom is the previous president of the STA from 2016-2018 and is now head of the Tampa Bay International Business Council.  Tom has also written an article for Viking Magazine entitled “Scandinavians and Suffrage”. He has been active in both government military and the private sector including the management of corporations and operation of their family business. He holds two graduate degrees and a post graduate Government Strategic Leader Certificate. Tom is currently working on his Ph.D. in business and is also a member of the Rotary, Sons of Norway, and Red River Danes.

Nikki Begrin

Nikki Begrin

Webmaster

Nikki has been developing websites since 2010 and is currently a project manager and business consultant.

She decided to reach out to non-profits in order to help bring attention to their missions. She has always loved the Scandinavian culture, learning about it and loves the mission behind the STA.

Currently Nikki is working on her Bachelors in nutrition in order to help people become their best selves while also managing multiple non-profit websites across the United States. Her passion is helping people and riding horses in the hunter/jumper concentration.

Tim Birney

Tim Birney

Vice President

Tim believes his greats accomplish in life, is that he is still living it. After multiple tours in the Army, a stint in HAZMAT, and his personal belief no mountain is to high, he always has a great story to tell. Having decided that there are still too many foods & cuisines to taste he has settled into a domesticated life as a shipping manager for Ferguson Enterprises by day, & a Viking history enthusiast by night with Dragon’s Head Productions. And otherwise know as “that awesome cheesecake guy” Tim started Birney’s Signature Cheesecakes est. 2008. Since that wasn’t enough for him to do he volunteers with STA as their Facebook coordinator.

Virginia Wright-Placeres

Virginia Wright-Placeres

Treasurer

Not being from Scandinavian descent did not stop Virginia from becoming a Board Member for STA! This non-profit, mission base organization accomplishes these things through, Education, Culture and Trade and she wanted to be a part of this!

Original from New York and of Italian descent, came to Florida in the late 70’s for college and fell in love with Tampa! Virginia received a BS in Management & Accounting and worked for the Construction Industry until her retirement in 2006!

Love for the Ocean & Seas, took me to a part-time position with The Florida Aquarium, in which she met the Shark Guy, Eric Hovland! His love the Oceans and his Heritage grew a friendship beyond words. When he asked her to be a part of this association, she could not say NO!

Her husband Rob is also involved and loves the mission just as much as she does. With two grown boys and three little grandchildren, they work and sit on many organizations boards that are education and culture for the future. Virginia is very happy to be a part of STA!

Stephanie Moffett

Stephanie Moffett

Entertainment Coordinator

“I research and I know things,” says the owner of Dragon’s Head Productions whose passion for history and education has led her to become Entertainment Director for both the Scandinavian Trade Association and the Pinellas Pioneer Settlement. Stephanie has written, directed, produced and performed in a number of Florida based events while managing the Pathology Department at a local hospital for 12 years, studying Anthropology with an eye towards a Master’s degree and raising a family. She is dedicated and committed to research and excellence in historical accuracy when creating demonstrations of living history and experimental archeology while managing to keep audiences entertained and therefor interested in learning more through demonstrations of textiles, Viking Age garments using traditional methods and period accurate fighting/weapons demonstrations. Stephanie has worked to create fun and innovative ways to bring history to life and ignite people’s interest in true history at the events she helps create.

Previous Presidents

Ivar Fiska

Ivar Fiska

2015 President

Honorary Jarl of Viking Festival 2017, is Founder and President of Scand-America International, Inc, a tour operator specializing in group travel between Scandinavia and the US since 1987. He is also a licensed Service Provider for travel to Cuba since 2002. Mr. Fiskaa has been an active member of the Scandinavian Trade Association since it was established in 1992 and has served as its president for four years. www.scandamerica.com